Subroutine IKELOS: Status=complete. MIDNIGHT EXIGENT: Status=still in progress.
The good: Fun & powerful.
The bad: Ricochet isn’t very helpful.
Conclusion: Worth your Exotic slot? Depends on the situation.
Fusion Rifle (Heavy Weapon)
The Sleeper has awoken! Bungie’s best-kept secret turned out to just be waiting for the right wake up call, and those of you who were fortunate enough to collect all of the golden age relics were given the chance on October 7th to begin the quest for Rasputin’s heavy Fusion Rifle. If you haven’t had a chance to start your search, don’t fret, while Bungie hasn’t said when the quest would become available again, the Sleeper is not locked away for good.
Check out our full Quest guide if you need it! For those of you who have been wondering how the “Gjallarhorn of Year 2” stacks up against its own title of heavy expectations, this review is for you. The Sleeper is a worthy, fun, and balanced weapon for the no-one-choice era of Y2.
Normally, we take this time to place the Exotic in question into the broader context of weapons of its ilk, but for the Sleeper, this isn’t possible; there’s nothing else like it! The Sleeper is a Heavy Fusion Rifle, and those who have had experience with the Queenbreakers’ Bow will be familiar with its firing pattern. It requires a moderate charge up time, then unleashes a devastating laser pulse that shreds anything in its path.
The laser acts as a projectile, so there is no damage drop off, and it travels extremely quickly on the way to its target. However, it is not truly hitscanned, so it does require some careful aim. Like the Bow, but unlike other Fusion Rifles, this energy beam can cause precision damage, leading to some big DPS numbers for a series of crit shots. It reloads its entire magazine at once, and is not susceptible to overheating or any such mechanic like Bungie’s much-beloved Spartan Laser.
Again, as there’s very little to compare the Sleeper to, we’ll simply approach its stats from an unburdened perspective. The Impact is obviously enormous, but the stat’s bar can’t do it justice, so just ignore that as a comparison tool. The Charge Rate is slow, and about on par with some of the slower Fusion Rifles. Its low Stability is a non-issue; the amount of time it takes to fire another shot allows for full reset. Its Range, while not affecting damage drop off, is crucial to maintaining a large precision hitbox and high Aim Assist values. Finally, its serviceable Reload Speed compensates somewhat for its low magazine size for acceptable ammunition efficiency. Unfortunately, it only holds 7 rounds of maximum reserve ammunition, that can be expanded to 9 with an all-inclusive +Heavy Ammo perk, such as can be found on the Alchemist’s Raiment and Heart of the Praxic Fire.
The intrinsic perk is also called Sleeper Simulant, which allows its projectiles to “tear through enemies” (overpenetrate) and ricochet on hard surfaces. Sleeper Simulant is Bungie’s confusing love letter to ricocheting rounds, as this facet of the intrinsic perk is all but useless – in fact it frequently does more harm than good. Yes, the projectile has the potential to kill the user following an errant bounce. It’s extremely difficult to plan for ricochets, and any positives that come about in PvE or PvP will likely be sheer dumb luck. Thankfully, overpenetration gives it some workable utility in lining up a series of enemies. Groups of thrall or recently-spawned Taken are suitable targets.
Your choice for ballistics is between CQB Ballistics and Smooth Ballistics. While CQB Ballistics is a frequently quality pick on other Exotic weapons, here the only real good choice is Smooth Ballistics. The Sleeper Simulant has zero need for recoil control, and the boost to aim assistance and precision hitbox size on the other hand is very welcome.
Its first distinct perk is Hip Fire. Again, Hip Fire is frequently a desired perk on a typical FR, but the Sleeper Simulant doesn’t really need it. There’s no “spread” to worry about when firing, and shots will typically go wherever your reticle is aimed. You’ll also likely be ADS for the majority of your shots; the Sleeper is not exactly a run-and-gun weapon with its slow charge time and cumbersome handling. Ostensibly Hip Fire allows you to keep your radar up, but in practice this sort of trade-off will rarely be necessary.
For the middle column, you have a choice between Speed Reload, Custom Optics, and Injection Mold. Injection Mold should be eliminated right off the bat, as it again just offers pointless stability at the cost of more useful stats. Custom Optics could be an interesting choice for when you plan on firing at targets at extreme distances, but it otherwise hampers your FoV and does nothing for the actual damage at range. Thus, Speed Reload is the superior choice for most content. You’ll frequently be devoting over 3 shots to an enemy with the Sleeper, and the quicker you can reload, the greater your overall DPS will be.
If Sleeper Simulant was Bungie’s love letter to ricocheting rounds, the Exotic perk, Activate Ikelos, is the overly creepy “I still love you” plea after the breakup. We went a long way for that joke, but that’s just because Activate Ikelos is so pointless. It is practically impossible to intentionally plan ricochets, and in fact all Activate Ikelos does is up the chance for accidental suicide while putting on a pretty light show. We genuinely would not blame you if you opted to avoid this final upgrade. While it would take some of the inherent fun away from the weapon, it would ensure your safety when you’re in a high stress situation with the Sleeper.
In Patrick’s video review, he talks about the shift in Y2 away from “jack of all trades” weapons. In Y1, Gjallarhorn was the best answer to everything, bar none. In Y2, there is no such golden ticket, and the Sleeper Simulant should never have been posed as such a replacement. It excels in burn-phase-style loadouts, that are tooled to being able to DPS bosses or handle onerous ultras. The reason for this is that is because equipping a Sleeper Simulant is the closest thing you’ll ever have to having two Sniper Rifles (besides No Land Beyond). Your first will likely put out more DPS, but the Sleeper Simulant’s raw damage per shot is unmatched. For this reason, high level yellow-bar Majors are the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of the Sleeper Simulant. There’s no need to waste 4 Sniper Rifle rounds when a single mighty burst from the Sleeper will do the trick. Even Ultras have a hard time standing up to a magazine of Sleeper fury. You may lose half your reserve ammo taking them down, but there are very few weapons that can do this as quickly and as safely as the Sleeper Simulant.
If you’re tackling an Ultra who has no defenses against a Heavy Sword, sure, it makes sense to use that, but think about Epic-shielded Wizards, Ogres with ground slams, and Strike bosses. You’re going to want a weapon that can chain stagger their weak spots with reliable critical damage, and lessen the strain on your Sniper Rifle, and the Sleeper is that weapon. This is its great PvE utility, and the niche for which you should be regularly switching to the Sleeper.
Why switching, you ask? Well, because the Sleeper is not the best weapon for everything in PvE. In fact, with the advent of Swords and the proliferation of content in which there just so many enemies, the Sleeper is going to feel like wasteful overkill most of the time. Anything short of a high level major doesn’t deserve a full 1/7th of your reserve heavy ammunition, and you’ll really begin to feel this strain in fast-paced Strikes or the chaotic frenzy of King’s Fall. Rocket Launchers are facing a similar existential threat at this point in time, but with the buff to their Blast Radius, they are at least still useful in downing groups of enemies – even if a Sword does it better. It’s understandable that Bungie aimed for 7 shots as the reserve, but it’s what really holds the Sleeper back from being worth equipping more often.
In PvE, your success with the Sleeper boils down to how easily you can shake the idea that ricochet rounds are going to be useful, and how happy you are to just use it for what it is: an excellent boss-killer. 36 Vanguard Strikes, 40 Heroics, King’s Fall – your Sleeper Simulant will delight in making quick work of the tougher foes in these realms. Just don’t waste it on a thrall.
It looks like we’ve got our new montage weapon. The crazy ricochets that just feel annoying in PvE can be deliriously funny in the Crucible, as you randomly snag double kills off of errant pulses into a crowded room – just don’t count on this being the norm.
The Sleeper is a universal one-shot kill on literally any Guardian with any buff you could possibly encounter. Hammer of Sol using Sunbreaker Titan has an overshield and runs into his friend’s Ward of Dawn? He still dies to a body shot. Funny enough, you can even hit damage values of over 700 with precision hits. So, if your aim is true, and you even graze an opponent, they die. Seems great, right?
Well, yes and no. While it seems like a great precision alternative to a Rocket Launcher, it lacks several of their advantages; namely, it can’t track, and requires full commitment from the user. This “commitment” means remaining out of cover to paint a target when charging, thus exposing yourself to their fire and the slings and arrows of other heavies. You can try pre-charging, but you’d better make that shot coming around the corner count. No projectile damage drop-off should mean snipes from across the map, but again, unless your opponent is remaining completely still, you’re going to have to do the heavy lifting to ensure a hit. Grenades & Horseshoes and Tracking is still the gold standard for one-hit-wonder heavies, and the Sleeper Simulant has to put up with opponents strafing behind cover instead of simply blowing them away. What’s more, it can’t hang with Machine Guns for longevity, lacking the reserve ammunition to patiently build an advantage in firefights.
Ultimately, four patient shots from an experienced Crucible veteran will still put down anyone foolish enough to show their face, but we don’t anticipate the Sleeper creeping into the metagame in any significant way. It still consumes an Exotic slot, and with options like Truth out there for only 150 Legendary Marks, the Sleeper Simulant is a hard sell.
Cosmetics & Sound
Two thumbs way up from us here. The Sleeper Simulant is Rasputin’s best work, featuring all of the strongest mainstays of his designs, including a prominent, jagged elongated diamond frame, sleek black housing, and unique sights for when ADS. Its discharge noise is imposing and utterly unique, as it echoes while the laser ricochets away.
The Sleeper Simulant may not be the holy savior of Y2, but it is not a disappointment because of that. Ultimately, Bungie has designed a weapon with a fairly high skill curve that can tear through dangerous AI combatants with precision. While its disappointing magazine size and reserve ammunition limit it from having staying power as a go-to Exotic, for the right situations, it’s hard to think of a better choice.
In PvE, if you don’t have the Black Spindle (which, let’s face it, is a lot of us!), it’s a no-brainer to equip this with your favorite Sniper Rifle. In PvP, it’s not going to take a good player to new heights, or even mask a poor player’s lack of skill, but it will be a hell of a lot of fun, and can prove reliably lethal with practice and patience.
So seriously: don’t sleep on the Simulant.
For PvP this weapon earns a 7.2/10 and for PvE a 8.6/10.